Tug of Peace


by Nidra Poller (July 2009)


Eight days after President Barack Hussein Obama’s monumental Cairo speech–billed as visionary and sublimely conciliatory– one of its pillars was shattered by popular revolt in Iran. How long can the other pillar—the imperative need for a total freeze of construction in Israeli “settlements”– stand on one foot?

The speech was a sterling example of lethal narrative [Lethal Narratives: Weapon of Mass Destruction in the War Against the West (June 2009).] Not only was it composed essentially of deliberate lies introduced by a Koranic claim to truth, it operated like a weapon of mass destruction of Western rationality. Perhaps less convincing to the Muslim audience that picked up the sops while noting the lack of orthodoxy, it was swallowed whole by Obama’s worshippers in the free (for how much longer) world. Commentators were so entranced by dhimmitude disguised as foreign policy, they did not even notice a major revelation: the first African-American president of the United States is not black. Though we on the well-informed fringes already knew this, Obama’s confession before the Muslim world (= the ummah) did not attract the attention it deserves. The Arab-Muslim lineage of his father had been posted on sites like AtlasShrugs during the campaign and shunned like the plague by “respectable” media. Leaders Conference of Jewish Organizations told Jews to stop sending around calumnious e-mails claiming that Obama is a Muslim.

“I am Christian,” he announced before a Muslim audience at al Azhar University, in the middle of a speech that only a Muslim could make. His father, who had been an atheist for the sake of Obama’s presidential bid, was now a Muslim, son and grandson and great grandson of Muslims. Most American blacks are real Christians. They didn’t come up in neighborhoods where the “prophet’s” words were revealed, they were shipped over to the United States as slaves. Before, during, and after that slave trade—and to this day– a far more extensive Arab trade enslaved African blacks. The survival rate was far inferior to that of American slaves. Such is the force of the lethal narrative that this ethnic confession slipped by unnoticed. (I will expand on this in a subsequent article).

The excruciatingly static worldview of Barack Hussein Obama’s major policy speech—reflecting timeless Islam’s violation of chronology—was confronted by the sudden outburst of a hidden dynamics in the totalitarian Islamic Republic of Iran. As the popular revolt in Iran produced a flow of images of bloodied protestors, blood curdling screams, and blood-chilling on the spot accounts of brutal violence against unarmed civilians, the American president kept chanting  “settlement freeze, settlement freeze, settlement freeze.”

The Iranian revolt is one of those “defining moments” that historians love to discover… and contemporaneous commentators often miss. What better illustration of this defining moment than the juxtaposition, on everyman’s computer screen, of graphic images of unarmed Iranian civilians battered, whipped, stabbed and shot alternating with international opinion shaking a finger at Israel and shouting “freeze”? In fact, the notion that peace on earth depends on reigning in the fruitful multiplication of Jews in disputed neighborhoods—whether they are called territories, settlements or, in French, “colonies”– will not stand up against the brutal unveiling of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Too many people have seen too many incidents on too many different media. Iran can’t be stuffed back into the rhetorical box of hopey engagement. The moral indignation manufactured to pin the rap for Mideast strife on Israeli settlements has fled at the speed of light to the streets of Iran.    

Two interlocking questions hang in the balance. Will Iranian citizens prevail over the tyrannical Islamic dictators and will Benjamin Netanyahu resist the new wave of anti-Zionism draped, as usual, in the trappings of peace? Lo and behold the Bush effect has intruded on Obama’s policy of compromise with autocratic rulers in the airy hope that they will be our friends if the enticements are rich enough. Former President George W. Bush acted on the premise that the overthrow of one tyrant, Saddam Hussein, would produce a ripple effect in the Middle East. As these oppressed peoples acquired democratic rights, he believed, they would turn to constructive enterprises and lose interest in destroying Israel and each other.

Could the ripple effect extend all the way to Europe? Barack Hussein Obama’s determination to shrink American power leaves elbow room for European leaders. The tight American-Israeli alliance that has frustrated France’s ambition to occupy a prime seat in the Mideast peace process is strained today. Obama’s insistence on curbing natural growth of Jewish people living in areas that are in fact more ours than anyone else’s is coming across as vengeful. It’s a body blow, it touches a raw nerve. If Obama persists in alienating Israelis he may eventually provoke an American Jewish backlash.

On the occasion of PM Netanyahu’s brief European visit with stops in Rome and Paris, I mistakenly imagined that these subtle shifts in the balance of power would lead Nicolas Sarkozy and other European leaders to edge closer to Israel. The personal warmth between Netanyahu and Sarkozy stands in sharp contrast to Obama’s hostility toward the Israeli PM and his disdain for the French president. Was I mistaken? Or is it the Europeans who are mistaken? Franco Frattini in Rome and Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris enjoined Israel to cease and desist from all construction in the “settlements.” Angela Merkel chimed in. Now the European Union has made it a full-blown chorus.

Why are European leaders slavishly parroting Obama’s ridiculous Mideast policy statement? The same Obama who blames the conflict on the birth of Jewish babies “outside the lines” is practically demanding that Europe admit untold millions of Turkish Muslim babies, and all their generations, into the Union. He scolded governments that deny Muslim women the right to wear hijab (in fact Turkey is among them) knowing full well that France, in a feeble effort to curb Islamization, has imposed some limits on the wearing of headscarves in schools and government offices. But the situation has worsened to the point that a French Parliamentary commission is now investigating ways and means to outlaw the niqab and other forms of total facial veiling. Beyond these specific issues, the promised improvement in America’s relations with Europe–purportedly bruised by G.W. Bush’s uncouth cowboy diplomacy–has not materialized.

During the US presidential campaign and to this day Nicolas Sarkozy has consistently criticized Barack Hussein Obama’s policy of engagement with Iran as naïve, unrealistic, and doomed to failure. He forcefully condemned the Iranian regime’s violent repression of citizen protest against the rigged re-election of Ahmadinejad. But he apparently fails to see that the corollary of this policy of engagement with Iran—squeezing Israel to death—is equally faulty. Obama is now dressing up his anti-Zionism with Sarkozy’s line about how friends should be honest and straightforward with each other.

Sarkozy applied it in his June 24th meeting with Netanyahu, where—according to a Ha’aretz scoop — he advised his good friend to dump Avigdor Lieberman and replace him with Tzipi Livni as minister of foreign affairs. Further, it is alleged that the French president compared Lieberman to France’s own Jean-Marie LePen, who does in fact emerge from the traditional right wing fascist anti-Semitic branch of French politics. But today he’s buddy-buddy with Dieudonné, the leader of the recently created anti-Zionist party and the darling of Islamists.

Scoop for scoop, I think I know who leaked that tidbit: Labor MK Daniel Bensimon, former editorial director of Ha’aretz, who was a member of the delegation. Bensimon acted out—in an interview on a French Jewish radio station — a passage of the “private” Sarkozy-Netanyahu conversation. Sarkozy, using the familiar “tu,” trying to convince Netanyahu to make peace with the Palestinians, sounds like a teenager egging on his buddy to dive from the bridge into the river. “C’mon Bibi, you can do it, I know you can do it. Take the step. Make the leap. You’ll make history. Count on me, Bibi, I’m right here by your side. Don’t worry about Israel’s security, we wouldn’t let anything happen to Israel, we’re your friend. Bibi, do it.  If you want, I’ll go with you to Washington, we’ll work out the details together.” Bensimon didn’t mention the part about getting rid of Lieberman, but it fits in perfectly with the rest of the conversation.

The dump-Lieberman story—apparently aimed at weakening Netanyahu’s coalition— stewed in Israel, was served cold in France, and ended up in a doggie bag in the US in a bad translation from the French. But the story of Obama’s insult to Sarkozy has escaped attention. Having brushed off a whole series of requests for official visits, Obama accepted a brief chat with Sarkozy on the last leg of his Cairo-Buchenwald-Omaha Beach stint, followed by a mini press conference. Asked why he had declined an invitation to lunch or dinner, Obama waxed eloquent. “Those [carefree] days are over,” he said, claiming he had to rush back to Washington to deal with the huge financial crisis and other such presidential occupations. “Wouldn’t I love to enjoy Paris…to walk along the Seine, have a picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens, take Michelle out to dinner in a nice restaurant…” Later that afternoon, the cathedral of Notre Dame was evacuated so that President and First Lady Obama could visit. Then a path was cut through the 7th arrondissement so the first man and lady could have dinner in a typical bistrot. The next morning the Pompidou Center was cleared of the hoi polloi so the Super Duper Couple could take in some culture before He flew back to Washington and She and the Girls stayed on for some shopping.  

Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t have to decline a dinner invitation. None was forthcoming. This left him free to attend a reception organized by the CRIF (Jewish umbrella organization), where he was greeted with resounding applause and several standing ovations from a packed house of two thousand (another 2000 applicants had to be refused). CRIF president Richard Prasquier set the tone, citing his father’s memories of Jabotinsky in Poland in 1938, telling Jews to leave or else they would be massacred. Netanyahu’s message was no less urgent, but significantly different: We must stand up and fight. Criticized from the right for conceding the principle of a Palestinian state, berated worldwide for not conceding half of everything Israel holds dear and needs for its very existence, Netanyahu seems determined to unify the Jewish people in anticipation of the existential danger that faces us. He outlined the basic points on which Jews– in Israel and in the Diaspora, religious and secular, Israelis on both sides of the green line and all along the political spectrum– can agree. He shifted the threat to world peace away from “settlements” and placed it where it belongs, on Iran.

French Jews, said Netanyahu, are proud Zionists. It’s true. And why wouldn’t it be? The trial of the Gang of Barbarians has been underway behind closed doors for two months, with faint hope that justice will be done. Defense lawyers were cleverly peeling away the guilt that might have been attached to the 26 accomplices of the ringleader and unashamed jihadist Youssouf Fofana. True, each played a role in the crime. Ilan Halimi was lured, kidnapped, held hostage and tortured for 24 days and finished off with unmitigated cruelty, but since each one was only partially responsible no one was really cruel, brutal, or murderously anti-Semitic. The worst anti-Jewish crime committed in France in modern times was leeched of its horror by a judicial system that turns criminals into victims and makes plaintiffs look vengeful.

The verdict in the trial of the Gang of Barbarians, accused of the atrocious anti-Semitic murder of 23 year-old Ilan Halimi, held hostage and tortured for 24 days, was pronounced after 10 PM on Friday, at the start of the July 14th holiday weekend. Youssouf Fofana, self-named “Brain of the Barbarians,” sentenced to what the French call life in prison, will be eligible for parole in 22 years. Sentences for his accomplices ranged from 6 months suspended to 18 years. Yalda, the young lady who lured Ilan Halimi into the well-prepared death trap, received a lenient nine years; she could be released for good behavior two years from now.

The victim’s mother and sisters, who are observant Jews, were not present to hear the verdict pronounced after the beginning of the Sabbath. Their counsel, Maître Francis Szpiner, adamantly urged the Ministry of Justice to appeal the sentences, which fell short of the already modest recommendations of the Avocat Général.

Was the timing accidental? Three years of investigation, two months of hearings, and a verdict that falls when the media are glued to the Tour de France and holiday goers stuck in traffic jams? State-owned France 3 TV unashamedly admitted that the verdict was announced during Shabbat in order to avoid incidents.

Meanwhile, in the small town of Firminy, enraged Muslims rioted for three nights, torching cars and buildings after a 22 year-old arrested for extortion hung himself while in police custody.

The press began to gather in the Palais de Justice late Friday afternoon. The buzz was that the verdict would be pronounced before nightfall. By 8:15 most of the Jewish people who had hoped to attend gave up. Around 9:15, journalists were herded through several checkpoints and crowded into the cramped courtroom. Another long wait. The defendants are barely visible inside a rectangular glassed enclosure, with a row of policemen at their backs. Their lawyers, pressed up against the opening, seem to be whispering sweet nothings to their nonchalant defendants. The atmosphere is more cocktail party than courtroom. Around 10 PM the jury and judges enter.

Absolutely nothing in that courtroom corresponded to the crime that had been judged. Nothing audible, nothing visible, nothing in the procedure conveyed the meaning of the crime and the reason for the punishment. The particular pain of the Jewish community, target of endless attacks by the likes of these barbarians, was deliberately muzzled.  

*     *     *

“I am going home,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, “to Jerusalem.” Simple words that resonated in the hearts of his listeners. “If we do not defend ourselves,” he asked, echoing the words of Hillel, “who will defend us?”  Visions of unarmed civilians at the mercy of Basiji in the streets of Iran.

The day after his cordial one-hour meeting with Netanyahu, President Sarkozy made a fast visit to two French overseas departments: Guadeloupe–which was paralyzed this winter by an ugly 6-week strike with anti-white undercurrents–and Martinique where a milder version of the conflict did less damage. Questioned by journalists on the brevity of his visit, Sarkozy did a remake of the Obama copout: Just like the American president, who wished he could have stayed on to enjoy Paris, I would love to spend a day on the beach, but I must rush back to the office and take care of urgent affairs.

Where does this leave us? Obamania has fallen like a sorry soufflé in France but commentators and political figures don’t know how to factor new information into their stale worldview. Things are at loose ends. Sarkozy, who was called a lapdog for defending Bush’s military “adventure” in Iraq, can do Obama’s bidding without igniting domestic mockery. His cabinet has inched closer to “Altanticism,” — a snide way of saying “USA-friendly”– with the appointment of Pierre Lellouche as undersecretary for European affairs; but the Atlanticism of Lellouche and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner reaches out to an American administration that turns its back on them, and outdoes Europeans in Bush-hating.

Standing up against formidable odds, Iranian freedom fighters are looking for democratic leadership and support, if only moral support from Western democracies. Is it possible that Europeans will trot obediently behind an Obama administration that has nothing to say for itself? If no one has the courage and/or the means to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from building the nuclear weapon that will doom us to a dismal future, can anyone in his right mind believe that it is better to crush Israel, under the pretext of fostering an outlandish peace process, instead of helping Iranian citizens crush the tyrants who want the bomb so they can crush all of us?

How can serious heads of state foolishly sing Obama’s hollow words in playback? They are still talking about engagement? We long for an iota of realism. Please, just once, say it like it is. “Dear Mr. Ayatollah, we know that you are very busy beating your citizens to death, but if you have a minute free, let’s say sometime in August, we’d like to meet with you and discuss…uh…and discuss…and discuss the possibility of further discussion. Sincerely yours…”

In this defining moment, the decision lies in the hands of individual citizens. Freedom loving individuals fighting Islamic tyranny in Iran. Americans fighting usurpation of our constitutional rights and abdication of our international responsibilities. Jews fighting the recurrence of genocidal ambitions that precipitate a time of darkness for all humanity.


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